Elkhart Targets 'Next Wave' of Professional Residents

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Elkhart is looking to make itself a more attractive place for professionals. The Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce has launched the "500 Families" initiative, focusing on new residents through quality of life, business climate and education improvement. Chief Executive Officer Kyle Hannon says other goals include increasing housing options and working to diversify the local economy through initiatives to attract high-tech businesses.

October 7, 2013

News Release

Elkhart, Ind. -- To build upon recent public and private investment in Elkhart, the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce is challenging the community to roll out the red carpet for the next wave of professional residents, something the Chamber calls the "500 Families" initiative.

"Elkhart has always been a caring community, providing services to people in need. Now it is time to also offer services and quality-of-life to professionals who might not know Elkhart is a great community to call home," said Chamber president Kyle Hannon.

Recent news about Elkhart County's leadership in job growth demonstrates the local economy is back on track. But a persistently high unemployment rate in the city limits and the associated pull on public services hint that socio-economic struggles are concentrating in the city.

If just 500 families of professionals moved to Elkhart, the public would notice changes in unemployment, graduation and educational attainment statistics, as well as other social indicators. "500 Families" is not an exact goal, but the Chamber feels it is a concept people will understand and embrace.

"When the pharmaceutical companies were strong, our community was home to many scientists and other professionals," said Hannon. "They enjoyed an outstanding life in Elkhart. We need to make sure Elkhart will continue to be an outstanding home to scientists and professionals today."

The Chamber plans to offer its proven government advocacy platform to support community organizations promoting quality of life, housing inventory adjustments, education improvements, and business development. The Chamber will continue to partner with groups, such as SoMa, that focus on bringing improved quality-of-life to Elkhart, and it also will try to fill in the gaps in progress.

The Chamber has 14 councils of volunteers that can work on different aspects of community attractiveness, Hannon said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 people commute into Elkhart County to work each day. The goal of the 500 Families concept is not to get those commuters to move, but to understand why they don’t call Elkhart home already. That will help Elkhart prepare to become home to the next professionals that come to Michiana.

The Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce represents more than 1,000 member businesses and organizations that employ more than 44,000 people.

Source: Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce